The Art of Friction surveys the borderlands where fiction and nonfiction intersect, commingle, and challenge genre lines. It anthologizes nineteen creative works by contemporary, award-winning writers including Junot Díaz, Jonathan Safran Foer, Thomas Beller, Bernard Cooper, Wendy McClure, and Terry Tempest Williams, who also provide companion pieces in which they comment on their work. These selections, which place short stories and personal essays (and hybrids of the two) side by side, allow readers to examine the similarities and differences between the genres, as well as explore the trends in genre overlap.
Functioning as both a reader and a discussion of the craft of writing, The Art of Friction is a timely, essential book for all writers and readers who seek the truthfulness of lived experience through (non)fictions.
“What I like about this collection is that it takes a complicated issue and intentionally muddies the waters even more—in the interim giving us some wonderful stories, essays, or what-have-you.”—Phillip Lopate
“The Art of Friction doesn’t clarify the gray space between fiction and non-, the perpetual argument in the post-Frey literary world. It inhabits it, exploits it, and celebrates it, and reorients us all toward what’s more important: good writing, good stories, regardless of category. This anthology is full of them.”—Lisa Selin Davis
In the post–James Frey era, readers of fiction and nonfiction alike find the once-crisp genre divisions beguilingly vague. The Art of Friction suggests that many writers grapple with these issues, too . . . It’s a provocative anthology, one of the first to address these vexing questions.—Michael Newirth, Time Out Chicago
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“The Week You Weren’t Here is a witty and inventive deconstruction of a young-man-as-artist’s pursuit of love among a confusion of choices. It’s as if Kafka’s Joseph K had been commissioned to write a Dating for Dummies (The How-Not-To version) in the form of a postmodern novel. This is an auspicious debut.”—Jonathan Baumbach, author of On the Way to My Father’s Funeral
“. . . A coming-of-age story delivered as lightly punctuated stream-of-consciousness . . . . at its best, The Week You Weren’t Here achieves the pitch-perfect sensation of a quirky pop song.”—Tom Michael, Time Out Chicago
“Remarkable . . . Blackstone gracefully keeps [Hunter Flanagan] tottering on the precipice between romantic hero and irredeemable cad. It’s a compelling balancing act to watch…An original voice.”—Jessa Crispin, Bookslut
“Charles Blackstone’s writing reminds me of the Kerouac I love and helps me forget the Kerouac I don’t. A story about a young writer smack-dab in the middle of that stage where a person moves from developing several crushes a day to developing several genuine romantic interests each day. Unlike most first novels about struggling writers as lovers, The Week You Weren’t Here is a novel about a struggling lover who writes. . . . Blackstone’s exploration of a questioning mind not only provides you with an understanding of what makes a creative person tick, but also with a well-crafted and enjoyable read. This book reminds me of why I read fiction in the first place.”—Kevin Elliott, Consumatron.com
“The book is definitely an interesting and worthwhile read. . . . The Week You Weren’t Here has a lot to say about the human condition, and it says it well.”—Steven J. Stewart, Sidereality
“Blackstone puts a slightly unsettling spin on the chick lit dating yarn, taking the reader inside the mind of aspiring writer and self proclaimed intellectual Hunter Flanagan.” —Jonathan Gray, The Big Issue
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